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Question: I am years old female and my parents are asking me to get marriage but I want to be single all my life. I am afraid of this commitment because I have seen my parents dysfunctional marriage. And is it necessary for a woman to marry?

While you are advised to be respectful to your parents and be extremely gentle and compassionate in dealing and interacting with them, and try your best to understand their feelings and appreciate their anxieties, the final decision about your marriage is left to you and not to them.

Your parents have every right to advise you and offer you the best insights they can give you and you must thank them for them; nevertheless,when it comes to the issue of your marriage, it is you and you alone who ought to decide whether you wish to get married, when and where and with whom. Your parents can only make suggestions; it may be in your best interests to benefit from such insights that they can offer; however, the final decision is solely yours and not theirs. For you are the one who is going to live with the marriage partner.

Having said this, however, I must point out that the negative views you have about marriage is because of your past experience; to generalize based on this experience is at best wrong; Islam teaches us not to be carried away by impulsive, whimsical inclinations in our judgments. We must take into account all aspects of an issue before coming to a sound judgment.

The fact that your experience of marriage has been negative does not in any way prove that all marriages are the same. Success or failure of a marriage is dependent, in large measure, on the kind of attitudes to life one brings to it. As Muslims, we believe that the recipe for good life is contained in accepting the sovereignty of Allah and acting upon the guidance He has sent down: Allah says, “Verily this Qur’an guides (humanity) to a state of being/experience that is most upright (and fulfilling).” (Qur’an: 17: 9).

Finally, your question about the precise status of marriage in Islam, the answer is: It varies according to persons and their circumstances. In other words, marriage is obligatory on those who are unable to control their desires and are afraid of falling into sin; it is recommended for all those who have desire for union and yet are not afraid of falling into sin; it is undesirable for those who have no desire and are afraid of fulfilling their spousal obligations; however, it is clearly forbidden for those who have no desire whatsoever and are incapable of doing justice, and may end up harming or injuring their partners: An example is someone who has contracted sexually transmitted diseases which they may end up passing to others if they get married.

To conclude: If you belong to the category of those who have no desire for union, and you feel you cannot fulfill the spousal obligations, then there is nothing wrong for you to remain a celibate. That decision is solely yours, and your parents have no right to force you to get married. May Allah help us see truth as truth and follow it, and may He help us to see error as error and shun it-aameen.

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